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A is for Atom


Published 1953


Presents in lay terms what an atom is, how energy is released from certain kinds of atoms, the peace-time uses of atomic energy and the by-products of nuclear fission.

From The Field Guide to Sponsored Films:

RESOURCES: “Atom Educational Film Made Available by GE,” Wash
Post, Aug. 9, 1953, R11; “A Challenge to Free Enterprise,” Bus Scrn15, no. 5 (1954): 33; advertisement, Bus
Scrn18, no. 7 (1957): 5.

Science film positioning atomic energy as both a peaceful and a warlike force. Sponsored by
a corporation involved in the nascent nuclear industry, the film is an animated introduction
to atomic energy and designed to be, as a Business Screen reviewer reported, “entertaining
but scientifically accurate.” The periodic table, represented as “Element Town,” depicts each
element in a distinctive shape suggesting its use by humans. Radium, whose giant head resembles
an atomic nucleus, decays into an unstable state and begins to jitterbug to the sound of
an old Victrola. The short ends with a majestic atomic giant straddling the earth. Our future,
the narrator says, “depends on man’s wisdom, on his firmness in the use of that power.”
NOTE: This example from GE’s Excursions in Science series presents a portentous message in
a humorous, self-deprecating manner. In its first three years of release, it was seen by more than
12 million people. Ten-minute theatrical version released in 35mm Anscocolor; 15-minute
nontheatrical version, in 16mm Kodachrome. Received a Freedoms Foundation award in
1954 and the Second Grand Award for science films at the Venice Film Festival in 1954.


Producer Sutherland (John) Productions
Sponsor General Electric Company
Audio/Visual sound, color

Credits

Director: Carl Urbano. Associate Producer: George Gordon. Story by: True Boardman. Art Direction: Gerald Nevius, Lew Keller. Production Design: Tony Rivera. Animators: Arnold Gillespie, Emery Hawkins. Music Score: Eugene Poddany. From the General Electric Excursions in Science series.

Reviews

Reviewer: Spuzz - - August 27, 2012
Subject: B is for Blinding!
Interesting, if somewhat simplistic detailing of how atoms came to change our daily lives. Somewhat boring scientific mumbo-jumbo thrown in.. this is not the most entertaining film in the world, but is sure one of the scariest.
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